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University researchers to tackle global data storage crisis
Wed, 21st Dec 2022
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Scientists at Aston University are starting a research programme to tackle the global shortage of digital data storage.

The global datasphere is predicted to increase by 300%. New surfaces around 10,000 times smaller than a human hair will increase data space Solution will improve capacity to cope with mind-blowing amount of data produced each day.

Currently all the data we use is stored on banks of servers housed in huge warehouses, or data centres.

In the next three years the total amount of data in the world - the global datasphere - is predicted to increase by 300%.

However, as data centres account for around 1.5% of the worlds annual electricity usage it has been recognised that building more huge warehouses is not sustainable.

Aston University has received funding (204,031) to explore solutions to this problem.

Experts will develop a new technology to provide surfaces with channels less than five nanometres in width, around 10,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair.

This will enable increased capacity in data storage devices to cope with the mind-blowing amount of data produced around the world each day.

Dr Matt Derry, lecturer in chemistry within the Universitys College of Engineering and Physical Sciences, is leading the project, which is in collaboration with Specialist Computer Centres (SCC), the science facility Diamond Light Source and Babe-Bolyai University, Romania.

"Simply building new data centres without improving data storage technologies is not a viable solution," says Derry.

"Increasingly we face the risk of a so-called data storage crunch and improved data storage solutions are imperative to keep up with the demands of the modern world."

Derry will be working with Dr Amit Kumar Sarkar, a researcher in materials chemistry, who is being funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.

"I am delighted to be joining Aston University to develop more efficient data storage technologies," Sarkar says.

"We will be exploiting advanced polymer chemistry as a pathway to increase the amount of data that can be housed on storage media.

"Increasing the efficiency of existing technologies will significantly reduce the need for costly, environmentally damaging construction of new mega data centres.

"The next three years will be crucial. The global datasphere is predicted to increase to 175 zettabytes, with one zettabyte being approximately equal to one billion terabytes."

The research will contribute to the UK Research and Innovations (UKRI) 2022-2027 strategy, and the United Nations sustainable development goals.

It also has the potential to impact other technologies where performance relies on creating regular patterns on the nanometre scale, such as organic electronics for solar energy.